What model for destiny do you look to? Take a few minutes and visualize fulfilling your destiny in this life. As much as you can, picture what that moment of ultimate accomplishment would be like. You might be sitting with a group of students you taught years ago, and hearing the difference you made in their lives. Or it could be attaining a certain position, seeing your children mature and successful, planting a thriving church, or graduating with a certain degree. You are there, in that instant. Who is with you? What is the setting? What is the impact you are having on others? Close your eyes and immerse yourself in the details for a bit.
Now, what are you feeling? What emotions surface when you visualize reaching your destiny?
When I ask groups this question, I hear words like happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, peace, thankfulness, accomplishment, thrilling, or contentment. We tend to see destiny fulfillment as something joyful and satisfying. And those are common emotions in destiny experiences.
Jesus’ Example: Our Model for Destiny
But let’s look at another example. What do you think Jesus was feeling at the moment when He was fulfilling his destiny in this life? Jesus’ life call was to take on the sins of the world and die on the cross to offer us life. What did Jesus feel at his penultimate moment?
The Bible records his agony, despair, loneliness (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”), scorn, thirst and pain. Isaiah captures it well:
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted… Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; He has put him to grief; When he makes himself an offering for sin, He shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; The will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.”(Isaiah 53:1-11, RSV)
Juxtaposing our idea of how destiny works with Jesus’ life story helps us evaluate our understanding of life purpose. Although our calling may not be the same as his (we aren’t all dying for the world!), a guiding principle is that our concept of destiny fulfillment must also be able to fit Jesus’ life story. He is our model for destiny. If we define life purpose in terms of pursuing our bliss, finding our power, speaking what we want into existence and having a superabundance in this life, there is no way to stretch that model far enough to fit a man who was betrayed, abandoned by his friends and died in agony without a penny to his name to accomplish his life mission. If the model doesn’t work for our standard-bearer, we need a new model.
Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, Leadership Coaching.